Shannon Martinez sat on a porch in Marietta, Georgia with her friends. She stared down at her chunky Dr. Martens and picked at her shoelaces as her long chestnut bangs—the only part of her head that wasn’t shaved—fell in her face.
An older African-American man walked down the street, as he did every day, passing their house on his way to work.
“Go home!” one of her friends yelled. “Go home, n—–! We don’t want you here!”
White supremacist groups have plagued this country for more than a century. Since the founding of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866, dozens of other destructive organizations have sprouted in its wake, including Neo-Nazis and racist skinheads gangs.
“The groups with Neo-Nazi beliefs tend to be the most violent groups out there now,” says Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC. “And the enemies are Jewish people, gay people, Muslims, nonwhites and on down the list.”
For Martinez, the attraction to white supremacy was rage. After being raped at age 14 by two men—both white—at a party, she was compelled by what she saw as skinheads’ raw and unrelenting anger.
“I believe, in retrospect, that my entrance into the white power movement came as a near-direct result of the self-loathing I felt from that assault,” she told MarieClaire.com. “I had hung out with a bunch of punks and scene kids, but the skinheads were the angriest people I knew. I was like, Okay, that’s my people.“
She says it wasn’t really about racism for her, at least not in the beginning. “It was a displacement of my feelings. Like, Me being this way can’t be my fault so it must be someone else’s fault. The skinheads gave me a place where I could focus the rage and anger I was experiencing,” explains Martinez, who grew up in a middle-class household with a mechanical engineer dad and stay-at-home mom. “There was a lack of connectedness in my family growing up, but the skinheads gave me a sense of unconditional belonging.”
This is one of the ways new members get their start, according to Blee—they “slide” in from the side, more due to camaraderie than doctrine, and don’t fully confront the movement’s racist beliefs until they’re already bonded with the people in the group.
But somewhere along the way, the hate takes over. And it wreaks havoc. Of the 474 deaths at the hands of domestic extremists between 1996 and 2015, according to the Anti Defamation League, the majority were committed by white supremacists.
Via Marie Claire US